Jim Irsay has shied away from the media since he was arrested in March for drug possession and DUI, but the Colts owner has now given his first interview since the incident and some of his comments might not help him win over those who question his actions.
“These diseases, both alcoholism and addiction, much like bipolar or depression and different illnesses, are still not seen as real diseases,” Irsay said during a two-hour interview in his office Monday. “People shy away from seeking help because it’s viewed as being somewhat morally off the path, that they’ve lost their way. I really think the disease aspect gets lost when you’re talking about alcoholism and addiction; it’s not like you’re battling leukemia or a heart problem; it is that. But even in 2014, there’s still this stigma.
“…That stigma gets carried forward and it’s unfortunate because people die and families get affected and people don’t seek treatment. It’s an unusual disease in the sense that the person has to diagnose himself. He has to realize that there’s this genetic disease you have to deal with through treatment. My grandfather and father both died of the disease, and you realize you’ve spent a lot of time on this path. Certainly, I have. But with the disease, surgery and pain management can be very tricky waters.”
Although addiction is a terrible disease, I’m not sure if he is going to get any sympathy votes by comparing it to cancer.
Irsay was non committal when asked if he felt he needed to apologize for his actions.
“I don’t think that’s something I’ll address right now,” he said. “There are certain things I want to say that I can’t say. We need to let the process go forward and I’ll address that later. I’m a human being; if there’s something I have to apologize for, I would, but at this point, it wouldn’t be appropriate. It sets me up, like if you don’t say you’re sorry, then why aren’t you saying you’re sorry, and if you say you’re sorry, then you must have done something wrong.”
Irsay believes his drug addiction began with him medicating himself for hip and back pain. He also says he has agreed to be randomly drug tested by authorities, with results forwarded to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.